Land for sale in the Alps

So you have decided you’d like a chalet in the Alps. You have chosen the area you would like to be and have made a couple of visits looking for suitable properties. Unfortunately all the chalets you look at seem to be compromised in some way; either too old, badly built, overlooked by the neighbours etc.

So that leaves….looking for land to buy!

“Why don’t we build our own?” Good question, lots of people have. Individual chalets are being built around the Alps all the time. We “just” find a bit of land and the estate agent says she can put us in touch with a good builder. She’s shown us chalets that she has had built by the same firm in the past. So “why not?”

Land for sale near Morzine

Land for sale near Morzine, more information at the bottom of the page

Pro’s of building a chalet from new

  • You choose the location which suits you.
  • You specify everything to your requirements; from the design of the chalet to the quality of the fittings.
  • You can pay in stages. Ideally you have enough put by to pay for the land, the bank should lend the rest (in theory).

Con’s

  • You’ll have to wait (at least) 2 years for the finished property.
  • You think you will know how much it will cost before you commit, but in fact it is only an educated guess.
  • You think the builders will do a good job (because they have been recommended to you) but in fact it’s more “hope”.
  • If you change your mind and want to pull out half way though you’ll be left with an unfinished chalet. Worth only slightly more than the original piece of land. Full value will not be realised until it is finished.
  • You will be working in French, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t speak French but if you don’t the project will cost you more thanks to inefficient decision making and poor communication.

OK, so in my list there are more Con’s that Pro’s, this is deliberate, you know this is not for the faint-hearted don’t you?

Land for sale in Les Gets,

Land for sale in Les Gets, more info at the bottom of the page.

Choosing The Land.

What will the chalet be used for? A permanent residence / holiday home / rental investment? The answers to these questions are crucial in choosing the correct location. Alpine Property has 15 or so plots of land for sale. This includes examples of good locations for each use.

The key point is that there will need to be some compromises made when looking for the plot on which to build your “dream” if the price of the land is to remain reasonable.

A permanent residence doesn’t have to be close to the slopes and bars, it can be out of town. It would be good if it were reasonably large to allow you to build a decent sized home for your family.

An investment property doesn’t have to be on a large, sunny plot, it can be shady with a small garden, as long as it has good access to the skiing.

It is interesting to watch locals choosing land. They frequently prioritise sun exposure when making their decisions. This comes from generations of experience of the mountain winters.

The Locals Will Say:

South facing is good. Some south-facing slope is excellent, it means the land will act as a solar panel allowing the sun to warm the house and surrounds. I live on flat land, it’s great for the kids, 50m away the slope starts, all the houses there lose their frost and snow earlier than I do. There is only 50m in it!

Beware of frost hollows and the bottom of valleys, cold air sinks and when there is no wind it stays! For days sometimes. Frost hollows are easy to spot in the winter but harder to identify in the summer.

Look around you, where does the sun track through the sky? Carry a compass. Is the sun blocked by the alp on the other side of the valley? Is it blocked by trees on the neighbours land (you may be able to apply to have these cut down) or is it blocked by the neighbour?

Think about the access, although you cannot be held to ransom by neighbours trying to prevent access to your land you might have to go to court to secure access rights. Though saying this it would be rare to find a plot for sale with access issues. We certainly would not advertise a plot that had no access. How steep will the access road have to be? How wide will the planners demand that it should be?

So, you have visited the land and you like it. What do you do next?

Ask the estate agent some questions.:

  • Have you got a land plan (bornage)?
  • Can we walk the perimeter?
  • Please show me the access.
  • Where are these main drains that you have mentioned in the particulars?
  • What are the environmental hazards here?
  • What “zone” is the land in?
  • Do you know what sort of chalet I could build? The size? How high? What distance from the neighbours?

It’s quite possible that towards the end of the conversation your estate agent might not have the answers to hand. They are easily obtained, this can normally be done straight away. Ask your agent to accompany you to the local planning office, it will be situated in the local Mairie. They will be able to provide you with all the bits of paper you need, including the planning regulations that refer to this particular plot of land. It is quite possible the planning office could be very helpful and may raise issues the estate agent is not aware of.

To give you an example of the sort of issues you will encounter, consider the “zoning”. For instance a common zone is “UC”. To determine how large a chalet you can build, you must ask for the CES (coefficient emprise au sol) for the zone. As an example the CES is could be 0.2. It can be much higher in centre of town situations allowing for denser housing. You must multiply the size of the constructible land available by the relevant COS. So for land of 1000m2 multiply by 0.2 which means you can build a chalet with up to 200 m² of surface area, ample for 4/5 bedrooms. The regulations about this are in flux so be sure to check thoroughly what applies to you. An internet search will not cut it.

“Why isn’t all the land constructible?” You ask. The council worker chuckles and responds. “Some of the land is non constructible because it is in a risk zone, I’ll print off a map to show you the at risk areas”.

Risk zones

You are reminded of the fact that when it comes to environmental risks the mountains really know how to upset the apple-cart. It can be seen from this map that many plots are in a “safe” spot but still surrounded by risk from avalanches (from both sides of the valley), from flooding from the streams that run off the mountain and from rockfall and landslides too! You might decide to look at this map and run a mile. OR you can look at it and reassure yourself that your plot is in a small hamlet has been existence for over 200 years and that in those days you could trust the inhabitants of a valley to build with respect to the risks. Nowadays it is another matter. 30km away (as the crow flies) an event took place that illustrates the dangers well. The following link will take you to a long article on the subject. Well worth a read.

http://pistehors.com/backcountry/wiki/Articles/Montroc-Avalanche

After everything you have learnt you decide to make an offer for the land. This is accepted on the phone the same day. Things are moving along nicely.

The estate agent announces that she would like you to sign a binding contract (a Compromis de Vente) and that for the deal to be sealed you will need to deposit with the Notaire 10% of the asking price. This is easily done as you have the cash ready to be transferred for just this occasion.

Questions and Answers

(Q). We have the money to pay for the land, we have assumed we can ask the bank to lend us the money to build the chalet. Is this assumption correct?
(A). Your estate agent helpfully offers to put you in contact with a variety of possible lenders and mortgage brokers.

(Q). You need to apply for planning permission, you are fearful that if this is not granted you will end up with a piece of grass of interest only to the cows. What can you do?
(A). You need to ask the Notaire to add a clause to the Compromis which states that you do not have to complete the sale if planning permission for your proposed chalet is rejected. In this case your deposit will be returned. Demand that this ins and outs of this clause and subsequent consequences are made clear to you by the Notaire.

(Q). How will you apply for planning permission?
(A). The estate agent offers to put you in contact with a local architect well versed in the planning procedures for the region. Time is of the essence here.  Deadlines set in the Compromis must be met (you normally get 1 month for the “depot de demande”, 2 months for the “response”, 3 months for the “recours”, so 6 months total. You must try to meet them, particularly the first one, to keep your deposit safe.

Next stages

Now up until this point you have been fairly impressed with how things have gone, you have made some preparations but they have been fairly minimal, within a few hours of setting foot on the land you are within a few days of having a legally binding contract that will lead to full ownership and the construction of a chalet? So why the emergency appointment? We don’t need to rush do we?

You do. A bit. You will need to get the planning process rolling as soon as you can. In theory planning permission can be granted in 3 months but in practice 6 months is the minimum required. You cannot leave your “get-out clause” in the Compromis open ended, the seller will want to insist on a time limit. This may well be 6 months. A long time from their point of view, no time at all from yours!

To get you started, here is a link to all the plots of land we currently have for sale. It’s always up to date.

The land illustrated in this blog is:

Land Chez Richards, Essert Romand, near Morzine.
https://alpine-property.com/essert-romand/terrain-chez-les-richards-lot-a/3377
All the best land we have for sale in the Alps.

Land La Pelouse, Les Gets
https://alpine-property.com/les-gets/terrain-la-pelouse/3343
All out land for sale in Les Gets

 

Golf in the Haute Savoie

The Haute Savoie is known for its lakes and mountains, though rarely for it’s golfing opportunities. Despite this there are a number of excellent golf courses available in the area. We have reviewed them here.

Chamonix : an interesting and very playable golf course set in stunning scenery. A short season, open from the end of June until mid September. Not that posh in comparison to some of the others. Really nice restaurant and friendly staff. 56€ to 91€

Golf in Flaine, courtesy of Flaine OT

Megève : definitely posh but less interesting as a golf course, thanks to its altitude (1320m) the greens are often in poor condition. 40€ to 75€

Annecy : two courses around the lake : Talloires : expensive in high season, a short but hilly mountain-type course kept in excellent condition, especially the greens (which are notoriously small). Giez : longer and more playable “parkland” course, worth a visit, friendly atmosphere and decent pro-shop (a rarity). €59 to €75

Evian Masters : open February to November, a splendid championship course with fantastic practice facilities. Best time to play is just after they’ve had the Ladies Masters in September. €55 to €105

Esery (near Bonneville along the M40 motorway) : really nice and fairly challenging parkland course, super fast and very big greens, superb club house, shop and restaurant. Absolutely worth a try.

Golf in Flaine, courtesy of Flaine OT

Divonne : (just about in France, and technically not in the Haute Savoie either! 30min north of Geneva), open all year, rumour suggests it might be better than Evian. 50€ to 100€

Bossey :(at the foot of the Saleve, near the cablecar), mostly open all year very challenging course, Jean Van de Velde is a regular! Only available to non members during the week.

Aix Les Bains: (in the Savoie, 30 minutes from Annecy), old parkland course with character and in good condition. Playable throughout the year.

The following are not really comparable to the others, but then they don’t pretend to be, they are often half the price. Thanks to their altitude they have short seasons (sometime in June until sometime in September)

Flaine : At an altitude of 1900m, 42€

Les Gets : 1400m of altitude, a personal favourite, very hilly and fairly difficult too, take some snacks and plenty of balls. The TripAdvisor reviews tell all. 33€

Avoriaz : 1700m altitude, the only 9 hole course here. 25€-30€ for 9 holes, 40€-50€ to go round twice!

Supporting the Patrouille des Glaciers

The Patrouille des Glaciers is a gruelling ski mountaineering race between Zermatt and Verbier. Teams of 3 compete to traverse 53km and climb 4000m, it’s a tough race that some claim to be the hardest team event in the world. It’s huge in Switzerland and gets a lot of coverage. The fastest time is just under 6hrs, but this is superhuman, most teams are happy to finish within the 16hrs cut off. The event I supported saw half the teams fail. Due to its popularity the PDG is now held twice in the same week. Nowadays there are always a few British teams that compete, the most famous of which included Pippa Middelton in 2016.  This meant the race was featured in all the major newspapers in the UK. The best article was written by one of the team for the Telegraph, though if you want to see Pippa from every angle the Daily Mail is the place to go.  But for a less showbiz write-up and probably the best pictures then have a look at Ben Tibbetts blog.

 

Supporting the Patrouille des Glaciers

This article is not about the race itself. I’ve written it to help anyone that wants to offer support for a team at the halfway point in Arolla. The organisers do provide water, Coke, tea and chocolate apparently there are some oranges towards the end so support is not strictly necessary. But many people appreciate something a bit more personal and also the possibility to sort out any equipment issues (forgotten suncream?). I had received conflicting reports about how easy it was to access Arolla on the night of the race. The local tourist office had said I could not. However others thought that I could, so I set the satnav and aimed to arrive at 1am. This would mean I could grab a few hours kip in the car and be ready by the piste at 5am.

Driving up from Sion on ever narrowing roads that night I immediately felt the presence of the race. I had managed to get myself sandwiched in a convoy of Swiss Military logistics trucks!  After you pass Evolene the road is very rough, narrow and precipitous, there are even some sections of single-track tunnels. Thankfully these were rendered safer by military personnel stationed at either end. If the weather is good there will be little to worry about. Otherwise don’t forget that Arolla is at 2000m altitude. If any snow is forecast make sure you and your vehicle are properly equipped! On arriving at Arolla much of the town will be occupied by military vehicles and logistics equipment. The Swiss military must treat this event as one of their major logistical exercises. Thousands of them are involved. Near Arolla they had set up a helipad, refuelling facilities and even a field hospital.

Despite this civilian supporters are welcomed. They had provided parking, toilets and had plenty of people on hand to advise. Once the parking is full then the sides of the road are used.  I parked about 15min walk from the checkpoint, and walked the full distance a couple of times but also used the military transport vehicles that were shuttling up and down the road.

 

Arolla checkpoint

The Arolla checkpoint is 28km into the course, the competitors will have climbed 2000m. In theory it is almost halfway, in practice the second half of the race will be harder thanks to the effect of the sun and fatigue. There is mandatory time cut off at 06h30 here and as you can imagine there will be no negotiating with the organisers! The competitors choose when to start the race the night before, so anytime from 22h to 02h in the morning. You should be able to do a basic calculation to estimate what time your team(s) will arrive. There is also the PDG App available on Google and Itunes, this will give you real time data for the location of each team. There is a good phone signal at Arolla too. However the App seems to struggle from time to time so it can’t be relied on.

Finding your team

This will be much easier if it has been discussed beforehand. It’s not easy though, there will be 1,200 competitors that squeeze past in a 3 hr period, more than half of them will have people offering support. Add darkness into the mix and the fact supporters are not allowed onto the course and some thought is required. The support was fairly tightly packed along the fence. Take a look at what I have marked on the enclosed plan. To help my teams find me I had elected to bring along a multicoloured flashing led strip. I was the only one to have done that, everyone else had flashing bike lights and orange warning lights. There were also flags, banners, balloons, tables and even a BBQ. You can imagine what the competitors are faced with!

 

Most of the teams that stop for help spend at least 15min sorting themselves out. Then they are off up an icy piste. Every half hour they end up mixed in with 500 or so setting off in waves on the “A” race start; something which is probably worth avoiding. Once 6h30 is reached everything calms down significantly. I caught a lift back up to my car in one of the military transporters and set off home. Again no grief on the road at all. If you want to drive around to the finish in Verbier, you will have plenty of time. It’s a 2 hr drive and for most teams you will have at least 6 hrs in hand!

 

 

Gourmet suggestions in Les Carroz

The Grand Cerf team has unearthed the best gourmet addresses that Les Carroz has to offer. From the laid-back setting of a pub to a gourmet or stylish restaurant, there is something for every taste!

BISTRO

Time for an aperitif? Come to Le Grizzly, a charming brasserie in the style of a typical English pub located at the heart of Les Carroz. With the added bonus of a cosy lounge area and a south-facing terrace! Check out: a wall of whiskies and a whole range of high-quality draft beers from all over the world!

1, place de l’ambiance , 74300 Les Carroz d’Arâches, Tél. 04 50 90 02 77

 

SOUTH-FACING TERRACE

Once you have taken off your skis, how about a nice drink at the foot of the slops on the south-facing terrace of the Milk Hotel.  At midday, you can enjoy an organic lunch based on original and generous bistro-style cuisine..

459 Route des Servages, 74300 Les Carroz-d’Araches

 

RESTAURANT

L’Igloo is an authentic Savoyard cabin located at an altitude of 1,598 m, at the arrival point of the Bergin (Morillon) chair lift. Open every day with continuous service, you can enjoy specialities from the Savoy region, daily suggestions and home-made desserts in the comfort of a flower-decked and sun-kissed terrace in the midst of the alpine pasture. Fondue, potato fritters, péla, etc. Cédric slow-cooks a range of traditional and top-notch specialities!

433, Route de Flaine 74300 Les Carroz d’Arâches Tél. 04 50 90 14 31 & 06 87 81 17 05

 

GASTRONOMIC

Renowned gastronomic restaurant, Les Servages d’Armelle welcomes its guests to a very cosy space which affords a unique view of the mountains, whether you are seated inside, on the south-facing terrace or on the veranda which is a continuation of the terrace.

The talented and passionate chef, Pascal Flécheau, expertly produces dishes of modern cuisine which are meticulous, generous, inventive and refined all at the same time.

Special mention goes to the St Pierre fillets and grilled squid, not to mention…traditional fondue served with boletus mushrooms, an original variation that beautifully combines three jewels of Savoyard gastronomy: cheese, wine and mushrooms.

841, Route des Servages 74300 Arâches-la-Frasse Tél. 04 50 90 01 62

 

SLOW AND STEADY…

At Café de Balme, there is no menu but a slate which changes on a daily basis according to season and availability! Philosophy: promote fresh products produced locally. Here, everything is home-made and the dishes simmer for hours on end on the ancient range cookers Aga and La Cornue…

The secret to the flavours of days gone by and authentic family cuisine is time!

309, route des grottes de Balme 74300 Magland Tél. 04 50 91 26 31

 

THE ESSENTIAL RECIPE: TARTIFLETTE

This dish, made with potatoes, lardons and onions and completely covered in reblochon cheese, is the star winter attraction par excellence. Where is it served in Les Carroz? Authentic tartiflette is served at Alpage de l’Airon, a 15-minute walk from the Airon bend or from the top of the cable car.

Ingredients for 4 people:
1.2 kg of firm potatoes
200 g of lardons
1 onion
1 reblochon farm cheese
2 tablespoons of crème fraîche
1 bottle of Apremont

# Tartiflette has not been around that long. See Wikipedia for more information!

 

 

The winter of 2017-18

In theory we have passed into Spring now. It doesn’t feel like it, and we have more snow down to the lower valleys forecast for the weekend. I have heard people complaining about the amount of sunny days we have had. It seems they are right. This has been the second “darkest” winter since WWII.

Meteonews has written up a summary of the numbers for this winter. The bottom line is that it has been extreme, we’ve had everything (except sun) high temperatures, low temperatures, precipitation.  Many weather records have been broken.

Temperature

Overall the temperature has been pretty much average compared to the records. However that masks the fact that January was one of the warmest on record, followed by a cold February. It just shows that an “average” figure can hide the reality quite effectively.

Precipitation

December and January had exceptional amounts of  rain (and snow), only beaten 7 times in the last 70 years. I’ve tried to find historical comparisons but we might have to wait until they are published. Meteonews mentions record amounts of snow with up to 7m that has fallen in some spots.

Avalanches

The bad weather has restricted the number of days suitable for venturing far from the pistes, this has meant that the accidents have come all at the same time on the few sunny days. So far there have been 25 people who have died in avalanches in France, with 3 missing (presumed dead), this is about average compared to previous years. An example of how they have all come at once happened over the weekend of the 3/4 of March.  See this article on Piste Hors. Full details of all the incidents are on the Anena website.

Col du Corbier, montagne do

The Col du Corbier is situated on the pass between the Morzine and Chatel valleys. If you are planning to drive between the two passing over the col is the quickest route, despite what many visitors think the col is kept open throughout the winter. Apart from the fact it is the quickest route between these two busy valleys it has to be kept open because there is loads of accommodation on the col itself, about 750 apartments/chalets with 4,000 beds. It is an old ski resort that used to go by the name of Drouzin le Mont, it has a rather tortuous history.

Probably the best place to get the background is from Wikipedia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Col_du_Corbier This English version is not bad

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Col_du_Corbier but the French version is better.

Montagne Douce.

Since the ski area ceased operation the local commune of Le Biot has made huge efforts to support the community and maintain a life on the col. They have overseen the dismantling of the ski lifts, something that is often overlooked. In addition they have constructed a large restaurant and bar that is the current focus of all the activities. I’ve been there a few times recently and can attest to its popularity! Unsurprisingly because of the history the property prices have fallen considerably which has increased the interest in the area, despite this there are still plenty of activities to do and the skiing is not far away.

# St Jean d’Aulps (Espace Roc d’Enfer)- 18min
# La Chapelle d’Abondance – 22min
# Morzine – 26 min
# Chatel – 30 min
# Avoriaz (Ardent) –  30 min

You don’t even need a car in the holidays. There is a bus that runs 4 times a day to and from the Espace Roc d’Enfer.

I had read about the various activities that are being promoted at the col so decided to go up to look. It was on a freezing cold grey day and I was amazed by what I saw. Plenty of people having a great time, all for free. A great opportunity in the holidays.

Activities

# Electric powered Fat biking, guided and with bikes provided.
# Snowshoeing, guided by the well known local guide Michel Robin.
# Ski-joering and pony riding organised by Samuel et Catherine Bailly from the Ranch in St Jean d’Aulps.
# AND…Archery, blow pipe target shooting! Sledging and some food.

These activities don’t run everyday so you’ll have to keep an eye on the “animations” page of the Vallée d’Aulps Tourist Office https://www.valleedaulps.com/animations.html or their Facebook page.

I rode as far as Drouzin on the pisted track

The commune is still grooming one of the tracks after each snowfall, it is not too steep and suitable for a fatbike trip or an easy ski randonnee that will give access to the old pistes. A great introduction to the sport. I’ve included a map here of the groomed track track. You should call the Mairie if you need to check if it is open (04 50 72 12 06)

The Mairie has mentioned developing the activities in the summer and possibly putting in an “espace loisirs” by the lake. Watch this space.

Our property that is gaining all the attention is Chalet Snowy, 3 bedrooms, 237,000€, click on the picture for more information.

 

 

Why borrow in France?

 Why borrow in France?

By Nathalie Hilton @ International Private Finance,
London based French mortgage broker

 

Mitigate the volatile exchange rate and reduce sterling cost

The Sterling cost of purchasing a property in France is only fixed when you actually transfer your GBPs into Euros.

Part financing your purchase with Euros will allow you to delay this transfer until the exchange rate has recovered in your favour.

This has proven a popular strategy with cash rich buyers since Brexit, the subsequent fall of the Sterling and the very volatile evolution of the exchange rate.

You basically match the currency exposure of the asset you are buying (the French property) and the funds you are using to finance the purchase (Euros borrowed from the bank rather than Sterling savings you have).

Once the exchange rate moves in your favour, you are in a position to repay all or part of the French mortgage thereby not only reducing the debt against the property, but also the sterling cost of purchasing your second home in France.

A large majority of mortgages in France feature no or very low early redemption penalties, so it is important you select the most adequate product from the outset through an experienced broker.

Secure finance on the French property rather than your main residence

A large majority of second home buyers feel more comfortable to raise finance on the new French property as opposed to taking new or additional liability on their main residence at home.

When you borrow in France, the lenders will always take a first rank charge of the French property; this will be registered against the asset by the notaire who looks after the conveyancing process.

Borrowing in France means access to high Loan to Values and longer fixed terms

French mortgage rates are very close to historic lows, and long term fixed rate mortgages are very popular in the domestic French market.

At the time of writing, you can typically borrow for 20 years at rates as little as 1.40% (with a 20% side investment) or 2.15% (with no side investment), and you have the reassurance that your monthly repayments will never increase.

Loan to values (LTVs) for non-resident buyers are also very high in France and depending on your circumstances, you can typically borrow up to 85-90% of the purchase price net of agents or notaires’ fees. This is however only available on a repayment basis.

Some of the banks will also offer interest only options or “in-fine” as it is called in France, though they have much stricter criteria and it is more difficult to qualify for this type of loans. The best LTVs available on interest only tend to be around 70-75% of the net purchase price.

Create a debt on the French property, as mortgage interest can currently be offset against some of the French taxes

In a number of cases, it is possible to offset the interest of your French mortgage against tax on the rental income that you may generate with the French property.
For purchases of €1,300,000 and over, the French Wealth tax becomes applicable on the net value of the property, as per the rates below.

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This is one of the reasons why many investors choose to take out a mortgage on those more expensive properties.

We always recommend that you take independent advice from an accountant about tax implications for any property purchase in France.

To discuss the above in further details, contact Enquiries@internationalprivatefinance.com

 

French Capital Gains Tax

Just like in the UK, if you sell property in France for more than you paid for it there is tax to pay. If the property is your main home then there is a 100% exemption (so you’ll have no French Capital Gains Tax to pay). If the property is a second home then things get more complicated.

I’ve been collecting some articles on the subject from the web. A good place to start would be the French Notaires website.

https://www.notaires.fr/en/capital-gains-tax-property-0

More from the French government here. Dealing with the specific case of what happens when there is a delay in selling what was a principal residence.

http://droit-finances.commentcamarche.net/faq/2342-delai-de-revente-de-la-residence-principale

also

https://www.frenchentree.com/french-property/french-tax/capital-gains-on-a-property-sale/

and some Brexit related comment here

https://www.frenchentree.com/brexit/what-happens-to-capital-gains-tax-after-brexit/

Alpine weather forecast

We often get asked what the weather is like in the Alps. And where we get our forecast from. There are loads of resources available. I rarely use just one, I get used to putting them together to get an overview of the situation.

Our favourite forecast is from an amateur forecaster in Chamonix, it’s good for most of the Haute Savoie. We find it works fine in St Gervais, Samoens and Morzine too.

http://chamonix-meteo.com/bul/metPreMatFr.php taken from the http://chamonix-meteo.com/ website.

We often use Snow-Forecast for long term trends, it’s free up until 6 days however don’t get too hung up on the actual numbers. It should be renamed rain-forecast in the summer.

http://www.snow-forecast.com/

And then MeteoBlue, this goes into more depth and forecasts further into the future.

https://www.meteoblue.com/en/weather/forecast/meteogramfive/morzine_france_2991630

If you want to get back to basics then there is always the pressure charts. The best are probably from the Met Office

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/surface-pressure/

For a more micro idea of the current rain/snow there is a real time radar, this is great for picking dry periods between showers.

http://www.landi.ch/fra/0804_niederschlagsradar.asp

Webcams in the Haute Savoie.

When things are a bit grey in the valleys, we use the webcams to see what is happening on the mountain!

The Lindarets Webcam http://m.webcam-hd.com/vallee-d-aulps/les-lindarets

The plateau at La Grande Terche http://m.webcam-hd.com/vallee-d-aulps/plateau-st-jean-d-aulps/

The summit (Sommet des Tetes) at La Grande Terche http://m.webcam-hd.com/vallee-d-aulps/roc-d-enfer

Various webcams at Avoriaz http://www.avoriaz.com/en/discovering/interactive-tour/webcams

All the webcams in Chamonix http://www.chamonix.com/webcam,12,en.html

And these ones at the end of a high valley on the Italian side of Mt Blanc. http://www.comune.valsavarenche.ao.it/it/web-cam

When there is a thunderstorm it can be fun seeing where the lightning is striking. This site shows the real-time strikes and is very accurate.

https://www.lightningmaps.org/

 

 

 

Rainy day activities in the Alps

The weather in the French Alps is generally good. When compared to many other mountain ranges in the world you can expect less rain in the French Alps! It can be miserable though and when a rainy period hits your week’s holiday thinking of things to do can be a challenge. I’ve lived in the Portes du Soleil for 18 years, run a holiday business for 10 of them and brought up 3 children for 15 of them. So far this week the Haute Savoie has received a months worth of rain. And now there is snow falling at 2000m!

Here are my ideas for wet weather activities.

Canyoning

You are going to get soaked anyway, and whatever the weather you will need to wear a wet suit, if for no other reason than it offers a bit of protection from the knocks that you will inevitably get! Wearing a wet suit on a hot day can be a bit much so take advantage of the weather and go canyoning in the rain! It’s quite an expensive option (55€ for an adult) but well worth it.

Rafting

Ditto the comments on Canyoning. A less expensive option at 38€ for an adult. Once you have tried rafting your can always go back for Hydrospeed.

Ice-Skating

Chamonix, Morzine and Megève all have Olympic sized covered ice-rinks (Patinoire in French), the children will love it, for you it might bring back some bad memories!

Swimming pool

There are plenty of open air pools across the Alps. On a rainy day they are still open but will be deserted. If you want to swim some lengths a rainy day is the perfect time to do this. If this sounds a bit too hardy then almost all of the alpine resorts now have covered swimming pools too.

Cinema

Most of the main alpine towns have cinemas. Cinéma Vox in Chamonix, Cinéma Rex in Morzine, Cinéma Le Criou in Samoens, Rochebrune in Megève, Ciné Mont-Blanc in Sallanches, Le Danay in La Clusaz and Le Choucas in Les Carroz, to name most but not all of them. Allocine is the website that tell you what is on and when. I know that the cinema in Morzine puts on an extra matinée show when it’s raining.

The Mechanical Music Museum in Les Gets

It’s a bit of a standing joke in our family, and admittedly we have only been once. Despite this it should not be missed! The Musée de la Musique Mécanique is open in the afternoon almost all the year. It has 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor 2/16 for things to do in Les Gets (the first is skiing).

Gorges du Pont du Diable, Vallée d’Aulps

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Haute Savoie. A guided walk in a deep, narrow limestone gorge. Long opening hours, and a long season. The Gorges du Pont du Diable doesn’t cost the earth either (22€ for a family of 4), it is accessible from Morzine, Les Gets and St Jean d’Aulps via the Balad’aulps bus. It’s dark and damp in the gorge so a bit of rain makes no difference. There is a café and a geology visit by the parking too.

The following activities will require a car.

Olympic Museum in Lausanne

You can either drive around Lac Léman or take a ferry (good fun but not cheap), to visit this suburb museum, don’t take my word for it, it is #1/87 things to do in Lausanne on Trip Advisor. It’s also quite good value which is hard to find in Switzerland at the moment. Just 40CHF for a family ticket. More information is on this link.

Chillon Castle

Again, this gets a top rating on Trip Advisor. At the eastern end of Lac Léman, the Château de Chillon is a really hands on exploration of a fairy tail castle. Perfectly preserved thanks to the fact it has never been attacked! They do a great value family ticket for 29 CHF.

 

Salt Mines at Bex

This is only open in the height of the summer, it’s an underground visit so the weather conditions are not important! Not too expensive either. There is more information on their website. Sel des Alpes.

Thermal Spas

The French Alps are full of thermal springs that have been turned into thermal spas and swimming areas. They all have inside and outside pools but considering these pools are often at the temperature of your bath it does not matter what the weather is like.  I’ve been to Les Bains de Val-d’Illiez  and Lavey les Bains‘ as they have big pool complexes with them. I’ve never been to the spars in Evian-les-Bains, Thonon Les Bains or St Gervais-les-Bains, but the clue is in their names.

Go for a walk or bike ride

It’s always hard heading out into the rain but you know you’ll enjoy it afterwards. Stay low though, heading up the lifts or onto the mountain tops doesn’t make much sense. Keep it short too.  Use some tactics. It rarely rains all day. Use the alpine weather forecast and rain radar to pick the best time of day to go outside. When I worked as a walking and biking guide we had a plan on a rainy day. We would only ever manage half a day in the rain. So if it is raining in the morning, chill out until later in the day, then go for a ride in the rain, or if you are lucky it will have stopped which will be a bonus! There is nothing worse than going out in the morning, giving up at lunch and then watching the sun come out in the afternoon! If you want an objective then search out a waterfall to look at, they look their best in the rain, there are plenty and they are generally marked on the maps.

Board games

You never have an afternoon spare to play board games with your family at home, so revel in the opportunity whilst sheltering in your cabin on holiday. Reach for the Monopoly or Scrabble and make the most of the “down time” forced upon you. Nice and cheap too!